paths, footways, tracks, cycleways, foot=designated, confused

I’m getting a little confused with the multitude of ways to tag places that people can walk,

I have an area with a multitude of different paths in it, from national cycle network cycleways(simple to tag) down to entirely user contributed beaten paths through the trees, with decapitating (or at least dehatinating) branches sticking out all over the place, and everything between. I really want a way to show the degree of majorness of a path on the map.

here is what i’ve got so far, please correct me:

*(foot/cycle/horse/etc)=designated means that it’s signposted that it should be there.

*=yes means that it can/does use it, but does not necessarily have a sign saying it can.

is the same as
highway=path; foot=designated

as such if there is a meter wide strip of land that has tar on it that runs through the middle of a park with no signs, it should be tagged highway=path; foot=yes

tracks are for farm vehicles etc, and has nothing to do with footpaths, unless also tagged foot=yes.
tracktype seems to be useless as it’s for vehicle tracks.
suface values is of no help either.
sac scale is only useful for mountains.

surface=*(unpaved/paved/etc) gives an idea but isn’t actually rendered by anything is it? so kind of misses the point.

As i’ve never seen a path in the area that would count as designated, everything gets marked as highway=path; foot=yes (except the cycleways).

The only other alternative I an see is to make the assumption that if it’s paved, is is assumed highway=footway, then mark more minor paths as highway=path; foot=yes.

ideas? suggestions?

Some comments (My point of vew) :

highway=path + foot=yes looks redondant to me, unless you tag a path that is forbiden to anything but foot and in this case I’ll probably tag it as footway or path+access=no+foot=yes

“*=yes means that it can/does use it”, well to me it’s “can” in a sense that it is allowed to. If bicycle tends to use another way, it doesn’t mean they can’t use this one.

surface=* : If your path is surfaced, then tag it as such, the more people use it, the more chance it has to get rendered one day

For your idea of “majorness”, there is not really such thing for now for the path case, however, you can add properties so it’s guessable :
surface is an idea (a surfaced path is generally more used than an unpaved one)
width (a 4m large path might be more used than a 50cm one)
the use of trail_visibility, even if borned in a mountain idea doesn’t forbids it’s use in flat inter-city forest

This comes up quite a lot.
I use the following:

highway=path, surface=whatever in urban areas with paths that are evidently used but may not have any indication of right of way. The access key can be used to define what kind of traffic can use it. Bollards and such are mappable on nodes.

highway=path, surface=whatever is also useful in rural areas for paths where status is unknown or where there probably isn’t a right of way but there is obvious use (and no farmer came out waving a gun when you walked past his kitchen window).

highway=footway, foot=yes gets slapped on designated public footpaths.

Contrary to what you do, I use highway=track, surface=whatever to define larger rights of way that have the physical properties of a track. Access rights can be modified using the access keys. Using these keys you can specify if the track really is only for agricultural use.

If I’m surveying a public footpath which is as wide as a road, I’ll tag it as a track and add the relevant access keys.

Regarding rendering, surface is useful in routing and other such applications. Record what exists, don’t worry if nothing is using it yet. The richness of the data will facilitate new use.

Just to add to the discussion: there is a proposal on the wiki at the moment for the designation key. The purpose of this key is to record the legal status off footways/tracks. Thus a public footpath which could run over a private road, farm track ,footway or cycleway would have the tag designation=public_footpath.

The key is already in use so in part this is a tidying up exercise. Assuming it is approved it should help to ensure that byways, bridleways and public footpaths are recorded clearly.

very good point – path and track basically are the same, except that a track is wider than a path, at least that’s one thing cleared up.

What values do you normally use for surface?

The more I think about this, the more I think that a tracktype sort of thing (1-5 grading) would be the best way to do it, I do realise that this would come with it’s own issues

No, it’s the other way round: not every highway=footway is a highway=path;foot=designated (think unmarked sidewalks for example), but every highway=path;foot=designated could equally be tagged as a highway=footway (at least if it doesn’t have a bicycle=designated).

Extending that, not every highway=path;foot=yes could be adequately described with a highway=footway; as would not be a highway=path;foot=no;snowmobile=designated (as in the first example picture in